MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Marines with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment participated in a week-long Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) training exercise at the Kilo 2 MOUT training facility here Apr. 4 - 11.
“This training is for us to prepare for urban encounters that we may face in Afghanistan,” said Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Renn, 21, a team leader from Athens, W.Va. “We are learning how to work with the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police in order to build up security so that locals will feel safe in their homes.”
Fox Company Marines have been operating in a mock Afghan village complete with role players that act as inhabitants. “The role players definitely make it more realistic. A lot of them are actually from Afghanistan and speak the local Pashto language,” said Lance Cpl. Dallin Marshall, 21, a rifleman from Elma, Wash. “Even though we are only using blank rounds and we’re still at Camp Pendleton, it makes the training a lot better.”
Marines said they have learned to adjust to less aggressive tactics that are geared towards talking to local Afghans and building rapport.
“A lot of the stuff we’ve been doing has been focused more on interacting with the local populace. Seeing what they need and how we can help them, things like that,” Marshall said. “We want them (local Afghans) to know we are here to help and that they can come to us if they have any problems.”
The training is set up so that whatever decisions the Marines make, there is some type of consequence.
“Everyone knows that Marines can fight, but essentially what we are trying to do with this training is to have every Marine be able to act as a diplomat,” said 1st Lt. Jerome Lowe, executive officer for Fox Company and a native of St. Petersburg, Fla. “The training is designed to change according to the way they handle each scenario. If they are too aggressive the locals won’t want to help them. If they communicate with the people and build a relationship, things will go a lot smoother.”
Marines said they found the training to be very helpful in getting them ready to deal with whatever challenges may arise once in Afghanistan.
“I think the training is very useful since we are going to be doing a lot of this stuff once we actually get in country,” said Lance Cpl. Angel Morocrespo, 23, a grenadier from Bridgeport, Conn. “If we get used to doing it now then once it is actually happening in real life it will be like muscle memory.”
With this particular training exercise complete, 2/1 Marines will continue to train and build on the lessons they have learned in preparation for their upcoming deployment.